Although I had symptoms for a long time, I never went to the GP until I experienced an inability to function. It's crazy how you convince yourself nothing is wrong as long as you can pull off the impression that all is well. As PMDD got worse, functioning in day to day activities became unsustainable.
Back in the days before kids, the symptoms of PMDD affected me only several days of the month. Some months this was scary enough for me to think something was wrong, but then just as quickly I'd feel great again and would have forgotten all about it by the time the next cycle arrived. There were several crisis moments along the way, but they were not a regular occurrence, and I didn't pick up on the pattern. Apart from that I functioned pretty well most of the time. I could 'make up for things' on my good days, such as working late, contacting my friends and so on. I certainly don't recall anyone worrying about me.
Post-pregnancy, however, has been a totally different story. Over the last 6 years (excluding the lovely symptom free time of pregnancies and breastfeeding) the PMDD has got more severe ... lasting longer .... is more intense ... the impact often unpredictable. Very quickly I lost the number of good days needed to recover/recharge/repair. At this point I still didn't know about PMDD. I used many other reasons and excuses .... "oh, you have small children, of course you're not coping" ..... "well, it's been years since you had a full nights sleep" .... "all the other mums at work seem to manage so suck it up". I gradually found it harder and harder to keep on top of things. Some things I managed for a while by hiding my coping strategies, such as, agreeing a deadline at work then working til 4am (kids wake up at 5am!), or acting goofy when I forgot to meet someone as arranged. Eventually, I ended up (and still am) in a state where making it through the month is more and more challenging.
WORK: I have been late to work, left work early, not turned up for work, worked from home, missed deadlines, forgotten about more than one thing on my workload, been unable to speak to colleagues. It eventually got so bad I couldn't hide it from my boss any longer. I worked up the courage to speak to them, bang in the middle of a bad PMDD cycle ... slurring my speech, half shut eyes, barely making sense. No surprise I was referred straight to Occupational Health. It worked out for me ... I've now been assessed and supported by Occupational Health which I am grateful for.
FAMILY: I struggle to cope with parenting, have difficulty disciplining the kids, can't remember how to feed them so buy too much junk food, encourage them to sit on the sofa with me under a blanket rather than play with them, have ugly screaming bouts, don't do anything for the house - groceries, cleaning, laundry. And it's not for the lack of effort, oohh I try. I walk into a room to do something, then 'come to' 30mins later, randomly kneeling on a floor, having drifted off and forgotten what I was there for. My kids pick up on it, it's hard for them, and their dad is exhausted doing extra things on my bad days.
GENERAL STUFF: I struggle to make decisions, take days/weeks to reply to messages, cancel social plans, forget how to 'sort things out' e.g. new car insurance, MOTs, paying bills. Tasks that I took for granted are now exhausting and overwhelming. Sometimes on good days I try to tick off some small random tasks, but I get torn between giving my good days to my husband and children - often we will just go and do something fun together meaning that the many random tasks NEVER get done.
I miss the functioning version of myself. I miss being able to accomplish small things, never mind the big exciting things.
PMDD takes so much from you, it's daunting to think about what the future holds.
But I'm here and I'm showing up and I'm trying.
Read next Blog 03. PMDD and Annika's story
See previous blog post The awful PMDD though train
This blog site is hosted by Dr Lynsay Matthews, Research Fellow and PMDD researcher at the University of Birmingham.
If you'd like to share your story, drop Lynsay an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you'd like to hear about or be involved in Lynsay's research see her research page ⬇
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